LOS ANGELES: Germany’s “All Quiet on the Western Front,” a World War I epic with nine Oscar nominations this year, won the Academy Award for best international film on Sunday.
The Netflix film, directed by Edward Berger, depicts the horrors of trench warfare through the eyes of a young man initially keen to join the fight. It is the first German-language adaptation of a 1928 novel by Erich Maria Remarque, which was also made into a best picture-winning film in 1930.
It also clinched the prize for Best Production Design and Best Score at the Oscars, currently running at press time.
“All Quiet on the Western Front” tells a story of a young man who, poisoned by right-wing political nationalist propaganda, goes to war “thinking it’s an adventure, and war is anything but an adventure”, producer Malte Grunert said in his acceptance speech for best film at the Bafta awards last month.
The film “is in fascinating dialogue with not just its source material, but the long history of warfare and cinema about war and atrocities”, Sight & Sound wrote in its review, saying the film also owed a debt to films like “1917,” “Saving Private Ryan” and “Black Hawk Down”.
The film was nominated in nine categories this year, including best picture. Only “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” with 11 nods, had more.
“All Quiet on the Western Front” beat out international film nominees “EO” from Poland, “The Quiet Girl,” from Ireland; Belgian film “Close;” and “Argentina, 1985” from Argentina.
‘Navalny’ wins Oscar for best feature documentary
Meanwhile the film “Navalny” about the poisoning that nearly killed Alexei Navalny, Russia’s most prominent opposition leader, and his detention upon his 2021 return to Moscow, won the Oscar for best feature documentary on Sunday.
Accepting the award, Navalny’s wife Yulia Navalnaya said: “My husband is in prison just for telling the truth. My husband is in prison just for defending democracy. Alexei, I am dreaming of the day when you will be free and our country will be free.
“Stay strong my love. Thank you.”
The documentary follows Navalny as he recovers in Germany from his poisoning in Siberia with a Soviet-era nerve toxin which Western nations said was a Russian state assassination attempt to silence the outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin denied involvement.
In the CNN Films/HBO Max documentary directed by Daniel Roher, Navalny works with investigative news outlet Bellingcat and they unmask FSB agents sent to poison Navalny in 2020. Navalny, pretending to be a Russian official, calls one of the agents who describes the poisoning plot.
He decides to return to Russia in January 2021 with Yulia and throngs of supporters await his arrival. He is arrested at the airport and later sentenced to a combined 11-1/2 years in jail in two separate fraud cases, which he says were trumped up to silence him.
His anti-corruption organisation was banned as extremist.
His daughter, Daria Navalnaya, attended the Oscars ceremony as well and said she was “very happy that the movie is getting the attention that it deserves.”
“Don’t stop fighting for democracy and freedom around the world and we’re going to get my dad out and we’re going to keep fighting,” she said in an interview on arrival for the Oscars.
Navalny, 46, is the highest profile of the few remaining opposition voices in Russia and is serving his sentence in a maximum security penal colony in Russia. Supporters say his health has deteriorated after around a dozen spells in solitary confinement.
Appealing unsuccessfully in May against one of his sentences, Navalny cast Putin as a doomed madman who started a “stupid war” against Ukraine that was butchering innocent people of both Ukraine and Russia.
At the end of the film, Navalny is asked what his message would be to the Russian people if he were killed.
“You’re not allowed to give up,” he said.